• Tue, Feb 11 - 9:00 am ET

I Skipped Child Birthing Class Because I Refused To Do Pregnancy Homework

booksI have been out of school for quite some time, so it’s been years since I’ve done legit homework. Even when I was in high school, I absolutely hated homework. I preferred to work independently on my own schedule, hence why I’m working as a freelance writer today.

Basically, I hate it when people boss me around and give me assignments. Add to that the fact that when I was pregnant, I was a hormonal rage-monster… and you’ll have a crystal-clear picture.

When I was in my third trimester, my midwife started asking me questions about my preparation for the baby. Had I read up/watched videos on breast-feeding? (Sure, even though the videos freaked me the fuck out.) Had I bought an infant-size car seat that meets safety regulations? (Absolutely, months ago on Amazon, bitches!) Had I signed up for a child birth class…?

It was on this last question that you could hear the record scratch. Um, I didn’t know that you had to go to school to give birth? If I had known that, then maybe I wouldn’t have let anyone put a baby in me in the first place. I’m a grownup, I do what I want, don’t boss me, and don’t try to get me to do homework—were some of the many thoughts running through my head.

But then there was the guilt. Maybe I was alone on this one, but I always felt like such a douche bag if I didn’t have the right brand of prenatal vitamins or sit on a birthing ball every day to help with my lower back pain. I just wasn’t trying hard enough as an exhausted, irritable, emotional pregnant lady.

My husband and I went so far as to Google child birthing classes in our area. But then we found out that they cost in the hundreds of dollars and took weeks of our time. Nope, nope, nope. In the end, we took a generic FREE pregnancy video class on some baby website, and we also skipped through all of the video chapters that we found uninteresting. (The majority, let’s be honest.)

And what do you know? We have two children now that made it out of my vagina in one piece—without completing any prerequisite homework assignments.

(photo: Getty Images)

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  • Lackadaisical

    Where I live (UK) you automatically get a place on a free course like that because there is no way we can be trusted to breath without instruction. Midwives nag you about it and skip most of the other questions you were asked as the antenatal class covers that for them. We skipped them in favour of private antenatal classes through the NCT, but that was because our research (asking relatives with kids) showed we were more likely to developed a social group of friends with kids the same age as ours for coffee mornings than with the free NHS ones. With sprog 2 and sprog 3 the midwife was happy I knew what was going on so only did the basic checks. The classes were, as we guessed, worth it for the social group but useless for the rest of it.

    • Bethany Ramos

      We did a CPR class though! But I forgot most of it…

    • AP

      I train lifeguards, and in all fairness, a single Infant CPR class isn’t going to be too helpful. It takes a lot of training and practice to get CPR down pat and committed to memory, and on top of that, it takes a lot of experience to be able to do CPR on a real person without freaking out, even if they’re a stranger. That panic response would be amplified infinitely if it was your baby.

      Some people do remember it, so it helps, but quantitatively, not that much…

    • Rachel Sea

      It does make people more willing to try though, and when a person needs CPR, a little help is better than none at all.

    • rrlo

      There was a lot of practical information in that CPR course – beyond chest compression and abdominal thrusts. Also, it felt good to know that we have done something (rather than nothing) in case of an emergency.

  • Andrea

    I found that class a massive waste of time. Breathing through excrutiating (I don’t know how to spell it) pain didn’t do DIDDLY SHIT for me.
    The way I see it, instinct does tend to take over when you are actually in labor. Breathing like an overheated dog on steroids was fucking pointless.
    Disclaimer: I hated the crunchy bitch that taught that class.

  • Ennis Demeter

    A lot of those classes have pro- women suffering agenda. They don’t think they do, but that’s what it amounts to. For some reason, they seem to be all about teaching women how to resist perfectly safe pain management during labor. They also at times have non- medically trained people spouting medical advice for pregnant women with unexamined and non-scientific beliefs about the evil of interventions.

    • Kheldarson

      Depends on who’s holding the class. Mine was sponsored by one of the local hospitals, so we talked about having birthing plans, including no medications to Dear Lord just stop the pain levels.

    • Kay_Sue

      This is kind of a gross generalization. It really depends on who’s hosting the class and what organization it is offered through. Mine was doing through our local hospital. While the instructor wasn’t a doctor, she was a labor and delivery nurse with decades of experience. Her advice was invaluable, and she definitely was not pro-suffering.

    • rrlo

      Usually the epidural is not given right away – there is some labouring that has to be done without pain medication. So, it can be a good idea to have familiarity with some pain management techniques – even if opting for an epidural.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    We took a queer prenatal class through our community centre, and it actually ended up connecting us with one of our kid’s half-siblings so it was totally worth it for that.

    We also did hypnobirthing and while I loved the CDs and feel they did help during labour, I didn’t like our instructor that much so it was a bit of a disappointment. Should’ve just bought the book and CDs and done it ourselves. Oh well.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Really?? That’s so cool! Have the kids met now?

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Oh yeah! We’ve connected with 30 or so of her half-siblings, most of them live in the US but there are 4 families in our city, we get together pretty regularly, we’ve starting an annual camping tradition every summer, it’s actually pretty awesome. We’ve all got a lot of mutual friends so we likely would’ve connected at some point anyway but yeah, it was pretty funny that we all met that way.

    • Andrea

      Wait a sec: 30 half siblings???? Just how productive was that sperm donor????

    • Véronique Houde

      Reminds me of Starbuck (the Québécois movie that was remade into Delivery man this year)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Saw that too!

    • Véronique Houde

      Which version did you watch? I hope you saw the original!!! :)

    • Bethany Ramos

      No, sadly, Vince Vaughn… But I never get out of the house, so it was good for me!

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      They cap them (well, our bank does) at 25 families in the US, 25 in Canada. I guess he was pretty productive and very fertile. Everyone that we’ve connected with got pregnant on their first try with him (some after several tries with other donors). Granted – it’s a self-selecting pool. All of the families we’ve connected with are either same-sex parents or single moms by choice (i.e. mostly otherwise healthy, fertile women). It seems that the straight couples who use sperm donors aren’t as interested in connecting with other families.

    • Andrea

      Wow. I didn’t know it could be that many.

    • Bethany Ramos

      That is so cool! The only thing I know about this is from watching Generation Cryo :-)

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      I haven’t watched that yet but I guess I probably should.

  • Kheldarson

    I went to mine. I’m one of those folks who thrives on information, and the more, the better! So the class actually helped calm my nerves by giving me info…and something to snark at. At the very least, the nurse teaching the class was able to explain labor sensations enough to make me feel comfortable continuing my night shift.

    • chickadee

      I felt the same way, and I also liked being in a class full of people who were going through the same thing that I was. My husband was in the military, and we had just moved and didn’t know anyone. This was just slightly pre-internet, so up until then it was me and a load of pregnancy books, which in the mid-90s was still pretty limited.

  • Alex Lee

    I remember I was supposed to rub her butt to relax her during labor.

    Gold star butt rubber.

    • Bethany Ramos

      LOL!

    • waffre

      What? Is that really something they teach you? If my husband tried to rub my butt while I was in extreme pain, it’d be a boot to the head.

    • Alex Lee

      It wasn’t just mentioned in the class lecture…we had to openly demonstrate our technique to the others.

  • Kay_Sue

    When I was pregnant with my first, I took a class. I was eighteen and had NO IDEA what I was doing, or what to expect. None of my friends had ever had a baby, and I was six when my youngest sister was born…

    But our hospital offered it for WAY LESS than what you are talking about. I’m talking, maybe $40? I can’t really remember, it was a long time ago. But it was affordable, so if it had been a waste of time, it wouldn’t have been as a big a deal.

  • Momma425

    I refused to even watch movies with pregnant women in them when I was pregnant, let alone go to the class. I wanted a c-section from day one, and ended up getting what I wanted, so no class needed.

  • Lee

    No class here either. Partially because everyone I knew with a small child told me it was a waste of time and money and partially due to my husbands weird restaurant manager schedule. I don’t feel like I missed anything. I just read some books, popped out a kid, and called it a day.

  • chickadee

    We went to one sponsored by our hospital for our first, and I really liked it. It was a sensible approach, and no one talked about having orgasms during birth or reaching In and wielding anyone’s inner goddess or anything massively off-putting. It was technical and sort of task-oriented and based on Lamaze breathing techniques (which worked really well when I wrenched my back once, BTW).

    My husband, though, hated being in a place where anyone said, ‘vagina’ and ‘cervix,’ so we didn’t attend one for our second. “Besides,” he said, “you already know how. Why go back?” Indeed–and that attitude is one of the many reasons why we divorced when that second child was 3.

    • Kay_Sue

      My class was sadly lacking in inner-goddess wielding also. I probably would have pissed myself laughing at that point though, so I think that’s most likely a good thing….

    • chickadee

      I would have the first one out the door if inner goddesses and birth orgasms had ever come up.

  • Melissa

    I took a class and found it to be really helpful. One of the things that I learned at the class that I had never read in a book or online was the concept of laboring down. The midwife who taught the class explained that once you’re 10 cm dilated, the doctor basically wants you to push right away, which means more work for you to get the baby all the way down the birth canal. By laboring down for another hour or two, the baby does most of the work getting down the birth canal so that you don’t have to push as long, which can be really helpful if you’ve had an epidural and can’t feel the muscles to push. The midwife said you have to kind of be your own advocate for holding off on pushing once you’ve reached 10 cm, since doctors these days seem to like to rush women through labor quicker than nature wants. I’d like to think that laboring down is the reason why I got my daughter out in 3 pushes, and I never would have known that had it not been for that class.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      Hey that’s what my midwife did! I was at a 10 but Mini Keatres was still wayyyy up by my ribs so she and the nurses had me lay on my side for half an hour to get her down. It worked and she was out after just a few pushes.

  • Joy

    I looked into birthing classes (about 7 months preggo now) and that shit is crazy expensive! It was like $600 for the one my OB recommended. Pass! I’m getting an epidural anyway and I’ve read a book about pregnancy and birth, so I figure between that and the hospital staff telling me what to do, I’ll be fine. Women gave birth without classes for millions of years so I can probably figure it out with a full team of medical professionals there to help.

    • Bethany Ramos

      $600 is just absurd!

  • CMP414

    I had zero interest in these classes. I wound up with a scheduled c-section so I was happy I had decided to skip it in the first place. Lying on a mat all pregnant on a Saturday afternoon was not my idea of a good time.

  • SusieD

    With our first, we signed up for a weekend “express” childbirth class since I was in grad school and my husband was working about 140 miles away. It was supposed to be on a Saturday. Then I went into labor a month early on Thursday (which happened to be my first day of spring break.) I kind of freaked out when the nurse told me that, yes, those spikes on the machine were contractions, and yes, I was in labor. I told her in what I’m sure sounded like complete panic, “But childbirth class isn’t until Saturday!” She said, “that’s okay, we’ll talk you through it.” And they did – my nurses were fantastic, as was my husband. My mom, on the other hand, was much too interested in “seeing it from a new angle” to be of much use.
    With my second, I was planning to ask my doctor at my next appointment whether she thought a childbirth class would even be helpful since I’d obviously been through an actual birth. Then I went into labor – 10 weeks early this time – so missed the boat again for getting childbirth educated. Wouldn’t have mattered anyway, ended up needing a c-section after spending a week on continuously monitored hospital bed rest. Ugh.
    I asked my FB friends for their opinions on the value of childbirth classes early on in my third pregnancy. The prevailing opinion was that the money would be better spent on a mani/pedi for myself. So that’s what I did. And this baby waited until full term to make an appearance, so yay!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yes! Maybe if mani/pedis were offered in class, more pregnant ladies would attend?

    • Andrea

      Ooh Ooh!!! Or with pregnant massages! Teaching your partner how to give pregnant people massages, THAT would be an useful class!!!!

    • Bethany Ramos

      YES x1000! My husband just fanned me. ;)

    • SusieD

      Mine just let me squeeze his hand during contractions. And during Baby #3 commented that he wished I had cut my fingernails before going to the hospital. So I squeezed a little harder during the next contraction.

  • NotTakenNotAvailable

    I’m with you on wanting to inform people who are bossing me around exactly where they can shove it. This is, in fact, one of the reasons I have no interest in having children (albeit a small one farther down the list than my general revulsion for everyone younger than 7, my own health issues that would be complicated by pregnancy, and the high risk of passing on those health issues to my offspring): everybody and her third cousin knows what you need to do in order to ensure that your child graduates from Harvard Med, and it’s absolutely imperative for the sake of the children! The children! that they dispense such tidings loudly and without any preamble like, say, a handshake and introduction.

  • Robotic Arms Dealer

    Beth, now you have a job that has nothing but homework!

    Waydago!!!

    • Bethany Ramos

      LOL!

  • Nica

    Skipped all the classes from the agenda-filled hospital class to the touchy-feely hypnobirthing classes. None of it was for me. I did my own reading and research, spoke to moms I admired and respected, asked my awesome OB and midwife LOTS of questions and made my own plan from there. My own doc wasn’t a huge fan of the classes (she said so without actually saying so) for a variety of reasons. I needed do my thing my way and that’s exactly what happened — twice! Both my births were spontaneous labors and minimal intervention hospital births with vaginal deliveries, which was just what I wanted.

  • aCongaLine

    I dragged the Hubs to a free class at the hospital where we delivered, while pregnant with #1… We walked in, and there was a video of a C section in graphic detail being played on a 10 foot screen (okay, so we were late). We did 180s and went out to dinner instead. You couldn’t pay me enough for that shit. Yikes.

    • OhHeyDelilah

      And this is exactly my question: why on earth do they show birth videos (either c section or vaginal) to prospective mothers? Seriously! If you go in for open heart surgery, they don’t show you a video of someone cutting through another patient’s chest with a giant pair of shears to ‘prepare you’ for the experience. Particularly given that when you give birth, regardless of how you do it, your experience of the birth is from the other end – you’re not standing down there with a bird’s eye view of your own muff/gut watching a small human emerge/be pulled from it. It blows my mind – I’m due in 2 months and I’m sure as shit not going to any of those classes to hear about how excruciating it’s going to be and then to watch videos that demonstrate exactly that. I’m glad you left. That shit is insane!

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I’ve never met anyone who said birthing class taught them anything that actually applied to her own birth experience. I’m sure there’s someone out there, but I don’t know her.

  • ChickenKira

    The class I took was not helpful at all, it was run by the hospital by one o the midwives in L&D. Actually, that’s a slight lie, the midwife running it did point out that contrary to what the internet forums say, yes this hospital has soap, shampoo, nice towels and toothpaste, so no you don’t have to bring your own. That bit was helpful.

    The actual childbirth stuff, nup. Turns out this midwife has all the ‘natural leanings’ so was pushing aromatherapy and had pamphlets to a hypnobirthing class to give us. She really downplayed pain relief and made it seem useless (she compared pethidine to over the counter paracetomol).
    Then we had a breastfeeding class where we had to pretend to breastfeed dolls and teddy bears and said ‘It’s just that easy!” well yeah, it’s pretty easy to ‘breastfeed’ a lightweight teddy bear who doesn’t have a mouth, because, you know, it weighs an eighth of what a baby does and it doesn’t need to latch.

    Waste of a day.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      Hmmm a bear doesn’t chafe your tits raw either ;)

  • Jallun-Keatres

    I didn’t take prenatal classes either! I really couldn’t be asked and felt it would be a waste of time for me since I’m an avid reader and if I had a question about anything I could go to my mom, google, or youtube to find my answer. Also, I had the convenient excuse of all the classes being during my work schedule. I regret nothing.

    • Bethany Ramos

      lol – I REGRET NOTHING!

  • Melissa

    YES! So glad to know I wasn’t the only slacker who didn’t do any homework on how to get the baby out, aside from watching a couple birth videos on babycenter. No birth plan for me either. She came out anyway, as they typically do.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      That’s what makes this really puzzling to me–what’s the incentive to study? It’s not like you’re going to fail a test or be turned down for a job or promotion if you don’t read everything there is to know about L&D! Unlike most everything else you do in life, there doesn’t seem to be any way to train or enhance your performance on something that’s going to happen regardless.

    • rrlo

      I was induced – so from beginning (of induction) to baby popping took about two days. So that is actually quite a long time. I found it enormously helpful to have some idea about what was going on and what could potentially happen. So knowing more about it can certainly help make a stressful time period much better. Whether it influences the outcome – who knows…

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      Oh, that makes sense! I don’t care for surprises myself, so I could see how the knowledge of what’s to come would be somewhat reassuring.

  • rrlo

    We attended a two day class through the hospital – it was not that expensive. We picked up some useful tips – best was a full tour of the hospitals maternity ward – which was very helpful. It was also nice to meet some couples giving birth at the same hospital- we ran into a few of them near our due date.

  • Amber Leigh

    They are free here in Australia, so I decided to go and dragged my partner with me, as we were having our first. My partner went, but giggled under his breath every time vagina and cervix were mentioned, as well as boobs or any variation.
    I was shamed by the midwife for mentioning the possibility of my child having a dummy because *gasp* my child could develop nipple confusion…. which he did not. In fact he still breastfeeds now at 11 months, so clearly I scarred him for life

    On another note my disqus is not working anyone have any tips?

  • Tara

    Totally skipped the child birth classes. The main reason was we didn’t have an extra $120 lying around for that kind of crap. But also, the internet. I felt like I was as prepared as anyone can really be for a first time, and that was just from all the information that is available online. I really think those classes are a complete waste of money.

  • guest

    I loved the Bradley class my husband and I took. OK, so I personally didn’t learn a ton of new information because I’m an internet and book junkie and started reading the second the pee dried on the stick. By the time our class started I was in my second trimester and was pretty well versed in the basics, but the class still had a lot of good practical information. However, my husband learned so much through the class (getting him to read the massive pregnancy books I read was not happening) and he was a complete rock star coach at the end. The other bonus was meeting all the other expectant couples. Now we all have babies the same age and still get together to hang out!

    At the end of the day, you’re a consumer of the healthcare system. I wanted to be a smart consumer so yes, I did pregnancy homework, just like I did homework when I bought my first house and when we buy cars or make other big purchases. I do homework when I do my taxes and manage our finances. I would sure as hell do homework if I were facing a different major health situation that might require surgery (to me, pregnancy also falls in this category). Homework doesn’t end when you graduate!